Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Glorious Revolution in America Paperback – 1972
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Despite enjoying relative freedom and economic prosperity, a number of upheavals disrupted the status quo in the American colonies. In addition to Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676, unrest broke out frequently in several colonies, culminating in major revolts in New England, New York, and Maryland in 1689. David Lovejoy’s The Glorious Revolution in America describes the background and events of the colonial rebellions of 1689. Lovejoy relates in detail how English policy towards the colonies, colonial insistence on perceived rights and local conditions created the conditions that pushed many colonists to take forceful action to protect their rights and interests. The focus of Lovejoy's study centers on two questions, how did the colonists conceive of themselves and their actions as settlers in the American wilderness, and what was their conception of the empire taking shape around them as well as their role in it? Lovejoy summarizes his purpose as follows; “What were the circumstances, then, which provoked American colonists after 1660 to settle upon a set of principles which they regarded as fundamental to existence in the empire?"
Lovejoy devotes the first two-thirds of Glorious to describing the background to the tumult of 1689. The author begins by describing in detail how England struggled both to develop and enforce colonial policy. After 1660, England began to give greater attention to economic and imperial expansion. This process involved a number of influential and highly-place Englishmen including courtiers, merchants, mercantile promoters, and other political figures. Having only the experience of Ireland to draw upon, England’s efforts to comprehend running an empire were experimental. King Charles II, his Council, and the Lords of Trade accepted the view that an empire by its very nature contained superiors and inferiors. They also took it for granted that colonies existed to benefit the mother country. These perceptions and ambitions, along with the vested interests of officials involved in shaping colonial policy, led to a determined effort to tighten up control over the colonies and integrate them into an imperial system in such a way that brought maximum benefit to England, often at the expense of the needs of the colonies. The major issue was to control shipping to and from the colonies in order to secure a guaranteed source of revenue. England desired all goods and vessels to be brought to England or her colonies in English ships only. In this way the maximum profit could be realized. Over time attitudes of the Lords of Trade toward the colonies hardened so much that grievances related to abolishing or relaxing imposts or duties would not even be considered. To secure a steady income from the colonies, Parliament began building a bureaucracy in America to enforce the duties. England realized that to fully benefit from her colonies they could not be left to chance but must become an “Affayre of state.” This implied much closer scrutiny and regulation of the colonies.
The bulk of Lovejoy’s narrative, however, focuses not on the shaping of colonial policy in London but on the responses of the colonists to those polices. He details developments in four colonies: Massachusetts, New York, Virginia and Maryland. The diverse interests, grievances and conditions of each are analyzed. Massachusetts, for example, founded as a holy covenant community, looked upon its charter as fundamental to it purpose and existence. For Virginia and Maryland, tobacco prices figured large in the on-going power struggles between the proprietary government, the assembly and the common settlers. The appropriateness of taxing unrepresented subjects emerged as early as the 1670s. The imperial views of the English government conflicted with those who settled in America and who could not understand why changing physical locations would cause an inferior status to accrue to them. Colonial conceptions of empire included guarantees that they enjoyed the same rights as they had in the mother country. Also, the colonists naturally sought to advance their own interests, which often conflicted with the policies of the Lords of Trade. They wished to make a profit, which meant access to whatever market promised the best prices. England’s Acts of Trade squarely hindered this effort, leading to widespread colonial violations of the Acts. Although Lovejoy emphasizes local issues are over universal root causes, a similar pattern of colonial needs and interests colliding with the Stuart attempt to subordinate the colonies to the mother country emerge from Lovejoy’s meticulous research. He notes that from the beginning colonists were quite lackadaisical about abiding by English laws regulating trade and did what they could to avoid customs duties or any other fees. So great were New England’s violations of trade laws that one report described it as a “free state” trading with whomsoever it desired. So prevalent was disobedience in the Puritan realm that some English officials spoke of the “New England disease.”
Lovejoy states that Glorious was the first history "broadly conceived" ever written about the revolutionary activity that took place in America in 1689; "To achieve a comprehensive view of the colonists' role in the emerging empire, The Glorious Revolution in America was written." In other words, Lovejoy elevates the event above that granted by traditional scholarship. In the words of reviewer Harry Ward, remarking on Lovejoy’s work, “It has taken nearly three hundred years for it [the Glorious Revolution in America] to find a historian.”
Several problems make a determination of seventeenth-century colonial attitudes difficult. Lovejoy points out that, in the period before the War for Independence, the thoughts and feelings of American colonists are clearly and readily understood from the multitude of declarations and documents extant. By contrast, seventeenth-century colonial society offers a less voluminous example of colonial attitudes. It was a less developed society and not given to deep reflections on relations with the mother country. Additionally, communications between the colonies and England were much less well-developed. Lovejoy goes a long way towards overcoming these obstacles. What makes Glorious such an important contribution to scholarship is the employment of primary sources as well as building on well-known secondary sources. The documentation is painstaking.
Lovejoy does an admirable job in confirming the fact that the relationship between the American colonies and the mother country was a difficult one from the outset. The evidence for this is overwhelmingly evident from the wealth of primary sources the author employs by. For example, Reports by officials such as Edmund Randolph to the Lords of Trade record the early American tradition of ignoring all British Acts of trade. The merchants of Massachusetts, Randolph reported, “have engrossed the greatest part of the West India trade whereby his Majesty is damaged in his customs above £100,000 yearly and this kingdom much more." Lovejoy also make use of responses to “inquiries” which asked colonial governors to comment on “What obstructions” they found to the “improvement of the trade and navigation of the plantations.” Colonial dissatisfaction with English trade policy is further attested through these documents. Most colonial governors responded bitterly that the chief obstruction to trade were the Acts of Trade. Other sources include locally-produced tracts and a great abundance of correspondence that flew between various participants in the ongoing struggles to work out the relationship between the colonies and the mother country.
Lovejoy deserves praise for his high standards of scholarship. Is not the fundamental measure of a work of history to give us a more complete picture of the past? Upon this measure Lovejoy’s work succeeded brilliantly. Some in fact called it the finest work yet on the subject. Awards and recognition include the National Book Award in History for 1973.
The few weaknesses include lack of analysis of the mercantilist thinking that lay behind much of Britain's actions and which led to conflict with the independent-minded colonies. Nor does Lovejoy explore contemporary political theory. This could shed light on the wellsprings of decision-making. Lovejoy claims that Britain’s first major effort to enforce more control on the colonies sparked a response in which the colonies determined upon “a set of principles which they regarded as fundamental to existence in the empire.” However, Lovejoy fails to point out the deeper roots of colonial rebellions. For example, after the Restoration of 1660 King Charles II issued a general amnesty for those who had taken up arms against monarchy except for those who signed the death warrant for King Charles I’s execution in 1649. Several of these men, including Edward Whalley, Colonel Dixwell and William Goffe fled to New England. Officials from Old England arrived in America to bring them to justice. Despite intensive efforts to apprehend them, both New England citizens and official hid them for years. This tells us much about the sympathies of the colonies. Did the colonists hide the regicides simply because they were upset over trade policy? Lovejoy states “Virginians confronted a number of problems after Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660” and limits his discussion to this time period because that is when England began to develop a consistent colonial policy. However, the ‘problems’ would not have existed if the colonies were not already peopled with individuals pre-disposed with attitudes that naturally resisted exertions of royal authority. Jefferson spoke in the Declaration of Independence of “the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here.” Were not most settlers in New England escaping religious persecution? Would not this fact predispose in them a suspicion of royalist/Anglican authority? Lovejoy skips over these elements completely.
Lovejoy does an outstanding job, though, of delineating the conflict between England and her colonies. Here we have two entities, Old England and the American colonies. Though joined by cultural and political ties each had diverse perspectives and interests. Lovejoy gives an eyewitness record of the problems that lay in a distant authority attempting to orchestrate life in a distant location. We see clearly that such an authority was so far removed from that it could not but fail in the attempt. A proposed charter for Virginia stated that colonies were “but in nature of an extension or dilatation of the realm of England,” and that colonists possessed “the same liberties and privileges as Englishmen in England.” Lovejoy certainly demonstrates that American political consciousness that flowered so forcefully and brilliantly in the eighteenth century had already begun in the infant colonies of the seventeenth.